Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service signs major managed services contract with Advanced 365

22 July 2013

Key contract to help Service achieve £10 million savings target

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MF&RS) has signed a five-year deal to have its Finance, Procurement, HR and Payroll solutions hosted and delivered by managed services provider, Advanced 365. Hosting of the Service’s finance and procurement applications will go live in August 2013, followed by HR and payroll over the coming months.

MF&RS, one of the UKs largest and most respected fire services, serves a population of 1.5 million and employs 850 fire-fighters and 350 back-office staff across 35 sites. The Service has already made significant savings using Advanced Business Solutions (a partner division of Advanced 365) finance and procurement software over the past five years.

MF&RS currently benefits from Advanced’s eFinancials, eProcurement and document management application (powered by V1), as well as SAP BusinessObjects. The new contract will include NorthgateArinso’s ‘ResourceLink Aurora’ HR and payroll software, and all applications will be hosted at Advanced’s London-based data centres.

The managed service contract will cover 24/7 infrastructure support, a dedicated service desk manned 8:30am-6pm, and a full disaster recovery solution. In addition to the application deployment referred to above, Advanced Business Solutions is providing consulting and change management services.

Advanced has also partnered with NorthgateArinso closely to manage the hosted deployment of NorthgateArinso’s fully integrated HR and payroll solution, ‘ResourceLink Aurora’, to serve 1,300 active employees and 1,800 pensioned personnel.

MF&RS selected Advanced 365 following a thorough tendering process, which involved more than five managed services providers. The Service were impressed by the fact that Advanced Business Solutions and Advanced 365 are able to combine the software deployment, integration and hosting service in one, and work in partnership with NorthgateArinso to provide the complete solution required.

Mike Davies, Project Manager, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, says, “We were looking for a one-stop solution across accounting software, HR and payroll, including the hosted service. The Fire authority must make £10 million worth of savings over the next two years and there is a lot of pressure on back-office functions.”

The organisation has established a strong partnership with Advanced Business Solutions over the past fourteen years. Following the success of previous projects, working with Advanced 365, the managed services division of Advanced was the natural next step but was still subject to a rigorous selection process in accordance with European procurement rules. The Service needed a supplier that could provide an end-to-end solution across the HR and payroll systems as well as integrated finance.

“Advanced was able to run all of the applications we needed in a cost-effective way, which is vitally important in the emergency services sector. Its role is to completely manage the Finance, Procurement and HR\Payroll applications for the Fire Authority – so there will be a single point of support and contact for any issues. What we didn’t want was to split a contract and deal with multiple account managers. Working solely with Advanced will give us a more efficient and reliable service.” Continues Davies.

MF&RS uses eFinancials as the core financial management solution with eProcurement to order goods and services from suppliers and request items from the Authority’s centralised stores. Staff place approximately 7,000 orders a year to suppliers and are paying 17000 invoices in addition to making over 6000 provision requests to stores. The Service has a site-wide licence for eProcurement which is up to 1,600 users. This gives remote users access to an application from over 30 different sites, allowing them to order goods and services immediately.

“We estimate that based on the government metric that each electronic transaction saves a business £41 per transaction that Merseyside Fire Authority have made a national saving of £4m over the last five and a half years. Previously it took days for an individual to raise a purchase order due to the paperwork involved; now it literally takes minutes,” added Davies.

“The information is in one location and the processes are seamless - from procure to pay, around budgeting and the general ledger. It’s simplicity itself. The majority of purchase orders are sent automatically to suppliers and we have workflow to advise users of the status of a request. We are a million miles from where we were in the past when we were using paper and spreadsheets. If we went back to that we would have to employ a department the same size as the one we have now just to manage the paperwork.”

V1’s electronic document management solutions mean that more parts of the process can be managed digitally. This benefits the environment as well as making processes more efficient and more traceable.

Davies continues, “Eighty percent of our purchase orders are emailed now. This has cut down on the cost of postage, envelopes, storage and paper. Before we were handling on average 20000 paper transactions per year for requisitions, provisions and having to deal with the subsequent paper trail that went along with the paper process i.e. purchase orders, goods receipting, printed cheques and remittance advice notes, envelopes and stamps.

“Furthermore the changes afforded have all played a part in our meeting the Authority’s green agenda.”

Advanced Business Solutions and Advanced 365 are part of Advanced Computer Software Group.

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